Biloxi, Miss. - The Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA) recognized the impact and accomplishments of the state’s tourism industry at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held at the IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi, Miss. on Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2020.

This annual educational and professional development event brought together more than 120 tourism industry professionals from across the state as well as tourism partners from the surrounding region. The awards program gives MTA the opportunity to recognize the best of the best from their 200+-member organization. Awards were presented in 15 categories, each focusing on a different aspect of the hospitality industry or individual achievement.

The MTA Travel Attraction of the Year Award is presented to an attraction that is new or unique interacting visitors to its city. This year’s award was presented to the Mississippi Aquarium which opened its doors in August. This much-anticipated addition to the Mississippi Gulf Coast tourism industry has three pillars: education, conservation and community. With interactive classrooms and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics-focused field trips; strategic partnerships with Mississippi universities to provide saltwater research and veterinary services to college students; and a mobile marine unit - just to name a few, this year's winner provides an invaluable educational resource to Mississippi. Additionally, their Seafood Watch Program, Dolphin Research Program and other conservation initiatives contribute to the wellbeing of the state's aquatic ecosystems. The Mississippi Aquarium was also cited for having a deep-seated commitment to Mississippi's cultural diversity, conservation efforts and economic development; beach and river clean-ups, recycling programs, volunteer opportunities and mentoring science clubs are just a few of the ways in which they are contributing to the community.

As a recipient of an $8 million grant from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act to support hurricane protection, research and education efforts, the Mississippi Aquarium has already been a major contributor to the local economy, creating more than 100 full-time jobs and numerous other part-time and volunteer jobs.

“These recognitions should be given to our tourism industry leaders who we value for their talents and achievements through their outstanding accomplishments. We are happy to have the opportunity to honor the winners of these awards as we truly appreciate their dedication not only to our organization but to the entire tourism industry, the state’s fourth largest industry,” said Kelli Davis, 2020-2021 president of MTA.

For more information on MTA or Mississippi tourism, visit www.mstourism.com or www.visitmissisippi.org.

The Mississippi Tourism Association is an association comprised of tourism professionals established to support and empower Mississippi’s tourism industry through advocacy and education. Membership is open to those in the hospitality industry as well as public service organizations and allied businesses.

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